Confiscated items: What does the TSA do with your stuff?

States make money by selling your things

Author: Matt Papaycik, Producer, mpapaycik@wkmg.com
Published On: Apr 02 2013 11:13:57 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 03 2013 06:07:53 AM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

In just a few weeks, on April 25, pocketknives will be OK to bring on a plane. But there are still plenty of things out there that can easily be confiscated.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, agents at Orlando International Airport confiscate thousands of pounds of items every year from passengers.

And now, Local 6 is finding out where all of that stuff ends up. It turns out, some people are actually making money off the stuff you hand over.

At OIA, Local 6 spoke to one couple -- Cindy and Matt Lamarre -- who are still steaming because they had to hand over Cindy's high-end hair spray.

"They said because there's a lot of bottle they have to take it, and they took it," says Lamarre. "It was good, it was expensive."

The Lamarre family, like so many other travelers who've had their stuff snatched, wonder where does it all go?

"I assume a lot would go in the trash," says Daryl Kirkland-Morgan, who had her hair gel confiscated. "Hopefully they donate it to a shelter."

"I think they probably divvy it up amongst themselves, they probably get first dibs," says Elena Ritter, another passenger at OIA. "Like, in the break room they pass it around. They take the good stuff, and then get rid of all the other stuff."

Most food and drink is thrown out, and so are chemicals, like gel or hair spray, according to officials. Weapons go to the authorities. But the rest -- pretty much anything that's worth something -- is sold.

The TSA unloads 750,000 pieces of personal property every year to places known as state surplus centers.

They package it, and sell it -- boxes and bins full of spears, non chucks, axes and numerous knives. Usually they end up online at auction sites like eBay or GovDeals.com. The sites then split the cash with the state agencies that are selling your stuff.

But if you're truly dead set against giving the TSA your personal property, you do have options, if you have the time.

You can walk back over to the ticket counter and check it. Or, some airports, like OIA, will let you mail it to yourself.

Under federal law, the TSA can't make any money on confiscated items; only those surplus agencies can.

The TSA says some states have brought in close to a million dollars selling your stuff online.